Tuesday, 18 March 2014

What not to miss at Art Dubai

I could easily make this blog very interesting by talking about laughable art. But then I will not do so. I feel responsible to behave appropriately to suit both the fraternities - that of the artist's as well as journalist's. And this makes my life tough on some days. Especially today after having been there and done all that we do at Art Dubai. The press preview of Art Dubai 2014 had me open my eyes on few more interesting stuff.. more metaphorically than literally what was there on display.

Here is what I suggest you don't miss. And I have my favourites. Please pardon me for just recommending a few.

Don't miss MF Husain on display at the Contemporary Gallery... this one is inside the Mina A'Salam hotel.

The winning artists announced by The Abraaj Group Art Prize are Abbas Akhavan (Iran), Anup Mathew Thomas (India), Basim Magdy (Egypt), Bouchra Khalili (Morocco) and Kamrooz Aram (Iran). I particularly loved the delicate sculptures made by Abbas Akhavan. They are cast in bronze and represent authentic fauna from around Iraq's Tigris and Euphrates region... as they were before the colonial advent... during which ships brought other plants from across continents.

Also spend a few minutes at the browsing centre here to read about the selected entries. These are good collaborative artist+writer works worth your time. 

If you have more time to while away... grab the headphones and listen to the run up programmes to the event. I watched the one on pearl diving... that an art team at a Bahraini gallery was talking about and it was interesting to note that diving has significantly contributed to the music in the region too.

This is a screen grab of that talk... [I like the ganesha on his tee].

Inside Gallery 1 checkout the sugar sculptures in a glass cage made by Lebanese artist Pascal Hachem at the Selma Ferani Gallery stand. She surely seems to be really inspired by things in one's kitchen. I liked the roll pins that read 'Each one of us is a future dictator'. [The roll pins with dictatorial words reminded me of my mother swirling one in the air on certain war-like days in the past. Ahem!]

Found this cassette stack interesting. It is made by Maha Malluh [all Indians reading this name please do not read it the way you are reading... the artist is not a 'maha mallu']. Maha is a Saudi Arabian artist. This is also at the same gallery mentioned above.

Now this one took my breath away. Can you believe it is hand painted acrylic work?

This work is by Mehrad Mohebali and is titled Nearly Infinity. Mehrad is an Iranian artist and painter who explores the conflicts of traditional versus modern, young versus old and West versus East.

Another one which made me stare for good 10 minutes is this one by American artist Kehinde Wiley at the Galerie Daniel Templon stand. It is a huge bright oil on canvas work you will spot easily. The artist makes naturalistic paintings of people with black and brown skin in heroic poses.

And this one [far below] can be yours if you have $800,000 to spare. Korean artist Youngjin Jo's oil will soon make it to auction houses, my heart says. These two guys wearing similar tees just caught my eye because they were so uniform! They were manning the 313 Art Project Seol stand where Jo's work is displayed.

If you can, say hi to Ruben Sanchez, the Spanish artist in residency at Tashkeel, who is ever so warm and easy to chat with. His street art installations are there at Bastakiya and Jumeirah. He makes wonderful art in each city... using the stuff that the city throws away. Here is Ruben and a sneak peak to his works on display at the Tashkeel stand.

Of all the sculptures on display, I liked these sleepy men... the most. It is made by Indian artist Jitish Kalat using dental plaster and wood... on display at the Galerie Daniel Templon gallery from Paris. The title of the work happens to be Syzygy. In astronomy, a syzygy is a straight-line configuration of three celestial bodies in a gravitational system. The word is often used in reference to the Sun, Earth and either the Moon or a planet, where the latter is in conjunction or opposition... [Dear Google, I don't think the sculpture means that but thank you anyway.]

At the Cartier gallery... as always they have breathtaking diamonds and precious stones cast in metals that sing a song that only your eyes can hear [yes your eyes can hear... you read that right!]. This time they have a display theme of white versus colour... traditional versus modern... to display the various collections in their original inspirational landscapes. Stunning ornaments were displayed in miniature Oriental pagodas, Indian domes, African huts... also modern skyscrapers of Dubai. I particularly liked the tutti-fruity collection inspired by colours from India, that Jacques Catrier (son of the Alfred Cartier, the founder of the luxury jewelry chain) brought to the West [who were until then not aware that so many colours together can also be fashionable]. I love that dragon circling a bright orange onyx stone... it is the pendant of a 18k diamond necklace with red rubys. And that sleeping dragon there is actually a pen... with a golden nib.

Cartier chose to acquire and display Congolese artist Kimbembele-Ihunga's sculptures/landscape in paper, cardboard, polystyrene, plastic and other recycle materials... a complete contrast to the luxury jewelry on display. The artist's colourful landscape is titled as 'Tribute to My Mother'. He dreams of skyscrapers and a planned modern city with complete amenities for his mother's poor village in Congo. Perhaps it was the artist's cheerful display of hope and dream... despite the current affairs in that part of the world, that inspired Cartier team to choose him.

Here is Kimbembele-Ihunga's work at Art Dubai:

On that note... I conclude my first impressions of this much believed event to a happy ending!

PS: Art Dubai is open to public from 19-22 March... and I shall go back again... and may have more to share. Btw I have not had a chance to look at the press kit. I am so glad my phone works so hard for me clicking pics... to help me remember the who and the what.

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